BY JOAO SOUSA
MARGAO: After being ignored for decades in post-Liberation Goa, the Komarpant community has finally seen light with the government deciding to include the community into the OBC category.
The inclusion has given a glimmer of hope to the community as it will go a long way in upliftment of the community, which has been neglected for years after Goa’s liberation.
As a member of the community, Ms Parbhawati Komarpant said, “At least we will get some benefits from the government before we get old.” A visit to the areas inhabited by this community has a story to tell as the people still continue to live in mud houses with thatched roofs. While some work in fields, others cultivate tenanted fields and still others are involved in fishing and toddy tapping.
Even though education has reached the Komarpants’ the youth are not highly qualified and have been finding it difficult to get jobs under the general category. However, the community has a few honours as hard work has seen the community produce a doctor a couple of advocates and a few have gone on to become engineers and agriculturists, however their number is limited.
Ms Parvathi Komarpant, who lost her husband some 7 years back, is battling hard to make both ends meet as she has seven children but no bread earner as her son is unable to gain employment. She also informed that she has not been receiving any aid from the government. She said that she has been working in fields of the landlords to earn livelihood. When informed that the community has now been added to the OBC category, she expressed hope that now at least her son, Mr Girish Komarpant would get some government job.
However, some members of the community have raised concerns that people from Karnataka whom they say are already getting benefits from the government of Karnataka and are settled in Goa, are trying to derive benefits of OBC category, which they feel is unjust to them.
Community members pointed out that only those houses that were surveyed by the OBC commission should be given the benefits of the state government.
The founder vice president of the Xshatriya Komarpant Samaj, Mr Soiru Komarpant, informed that several representations were made before the then chief minister, Mr Ravi Naik to recognise the community into the OBC category in view of their poor economic status. He said that years after Liberation, the Samaj was formed to bring the community under one banner in 2004-05 and place their case before the government and thanked the Chief Minister, Mr Digambar Kamat for accepting the pleas of the community and hoped that the OBC status will go a long way in upliftment of the community in the state. Mr Komarpant informed that there are around 5,400 members in the community including those who have migrated from Karnataka. He said that those who come under the criteria set by the government should only be given benefits for the general upliftment of the community.
Mr Komarpant informed that in Karnataka the Komarpants have been classified as economically backward community, however they have not been given any special benefits. The founder president of the Society, Mr A B Metri too welcomed the inclusion of Komarpant community into the OBC category and termed it as a progressive sign. He said that the process of recognition started in 2004-05 and various surveys were held along with the OBC commission all over Goa.
When asked about Komarpants coming from Karnataka, he said we cannot differentiate them from the community, however those coming under a certain criteria will be given the opportunity. He said some members of the community have climbed the social ladder and are now working for the benefits of economically backward people in the community and added that the Komarpants that have come from Karnataka are working hand in hand with their Goan counterparts for the upliftment of the community.
Interestingly, Mr Guru Komarpant who was a front runner in uniting the community under one banner has strongly opposed that community members from Karnataka should be given benefits of the Goa government and said that only original Komarpants should be considered at the time of jobs and in educational institutions.
The community members came to Goa along with king Sondekar and settled in Talpona, Palolem and Canacona while there are around five families in Ponda taluka with two families each in Margao and Nuvem.
It is believed that the Komarpants have got their identity after Swami Kumar and the community was originally from Lingayat and its members accompanied King Sondekar as soldiers before settling in Canacona. The community gave Goa the traditional Shigmo festival which is celebrated in a big way by the members.
The festival is celebrated in three parts. Areas of Patnem, Mandhand, Galgibag, Talpona area celebrate it with the Kalas group while people of Nagashem, Chawdi, Palolem Tembi Wada, Devabagh celebrate the festival with Budwant group. This closely knit community has each and every household participating in the festival with every household hosting around 50 people of the community for a meal during the five days of the festival ensuring that every member of the community has a meal with another member of the same community.
The community has also introduced a variety of musical instruments to Goa including the tasso, dhol, zauz, pakwas, tabla and the gumot, which are widely used during the Shigmo festival that has become an integral part of festivities of the state.